Theories abound for how to go about naming a business. Some people think a straightforward name that dryly tells customers what you sell or do is the best approach. Others argue that a funky made-up word is the business name to ensure you stand out and get noticed. And, of course, plenty of supporters fall at points everywhere on the spectrum between these extremes.
So how can you, a new business owner, begin the naming process for your company? Let's start with what not to do:
- Don't minimize the importance of your business name on potential success.
- Don't go with the first name you think of.
- Don't settle for a meaningless name that says nothing about you or your business.
Choosing the right business name requires careful consideration and thought. The right name makes marketing and promotions more fluid; it can help you rank high on search engine result pages; it's memorable and pleasing to target customers and it conveys important information about your operation. But don't be intimidated. Here are some simple ways to discover or create the perfect name for your new business:
Check for existing names in your industry.
Search business and product names that already exist in your line of business to avoid getting hooked on a name that someone else has already claimed. Your search can also help trigger ideas that you may not have thought of on your own and help you avoid naming your business too similarly to competitors.
Brainstorm with other people.
Gather some friends or colleagues around a whiteboard or notebook and write down any and every name idea that comes to mind. Some will be wildly off-base and others will be already taken, but having a vast collection of name ideas can help you develop a great name that fits your business perfectly. A fun - and free! - tool for this part of the naming process is WordLab's naming generator.
Investigate naming trends in other industries.
Are new businesses going with unusual or dry names? Are other entrepreneurs keeping it short and sweet, or do long names seem to be in vogue? Run with what others seem to be doing or go against the grain, depending on the approach that's right for your business.
Figure out what you want your business name to communicate.
Filter your array of options by eliminating names that are likely to send the wrong message about your company or products. If your offerings are hip and edgy, be sure to choose a name that conveys that feel. Similarly, if you're selling a product that depends on consumer trust or reliability, you may want to go with a name that sends a more traditional or otherwise conservative message.
Consider the application of finalist names.
After you pare down your list of name options to three to five finalists, play with each name to see how it works for web and mobile communications, potential logo designs and other graphic elements of marketing, and signage. Perhaps the most important part of this research is checking for the domain availability through a domain registration site. If the domain is available for a name you like, grab it. And if the .com is taken, buy the .org, .net, and .biz version if available.
Yell it from the rooftops.
Before you make your final pick, say your final candidate names out loud to get a sense for how each one sounds and how easy or difficult the names are to say in a sentence. Also, be sure to find out what any potential name means in other languages to avoid embarrassing innuendos among global audiences. If everything checks out up to this point, conduct a trademark search to make sure that the name you want to use doesn't infringe upon any other entity's trademark. This last step may seem excessive, but the effort up front can save you enormous costs and headaches down the line if someone comes forward to challenge your rights to the name.
Naming your business correctly is an important part of the planning process because changing your name later can be costly. After investing in marketing your brand, changing things will cost you in terms of market awareness. And updating all your collateral, digital references and other forms of communication costs time and money as well. So you want to get it right from the start. Choose a business name that communicates important details about your brand and motivates consumers to purchase your products over the offerings of competitors.
About author: Emily Miller is a marketing professional and small business blogger who contributes regularly to Professional Intern. Her educational background is in English and Small Business Management, and she is especially fascinated by how technology can be used as solutions for startups and small companies.